Getting Praised for Photos you Didn't Take

I've been noticing a trend on Instagram recently of so called "collabs".  Essentially one Instagram user gives another Instagram user permission to download their photos, re-edit them, and post them on their own gallery. The idea behind it being a mutually benefitial, win-win sort of situation. One get's plugged, and the other get's praised for his photo editing skills. It's similar to what IG hubs like @instagood and @igmasters do by featuring users. But there's a big problem with this. 

First of all, you shouldn't get praised for the edit you did to a photo you didn't take. I don't want to downplay the importance of editing photos, but I think that that part of the process is the least important. You have to take a good image first with the camera. No matter how much VSCO you throw at a picture, if you didn't take a good one the first time, the presets are not going to save it. When you actually do have a great picture that already looks amazing in RAW format, the filters and presets are just icing on the cake. That was a cake metaphor.

The other problem I'm seeing on Instagram with these "collabs" is that people aren't aware that these photos weren't taken by the editor. Some are good at pushing people to checkout the "authors" account, others are not so much.

With the exception of surreal photo composites with Photoshop, (think waterfalls in the New York City Skyline) you just can't make a photo you didn't take your own with an edit, literally and figuratively speaking. You're not going to be able to give your voice and vision to a photo you didn't take.

Using Sketch for Responsive Web Design (A Case Study)

I'm not a seasoned web designer and I'm not an advanced Photoshop user. I'm more of an intermediate level user and know my way around the software. But my attempts at making website mockups for some of my web classes was just a giant bag of hurt. I'm sure that people that have been using Photoshop for years have no problems with it for making website mockups, but for me it was just a drag to figure out how to slice things and save PNG'S. In contrast, my first attempt with Sketch was smooth like buttah. 

If you're a web or mobile app designer and you haven't tried Sketch yet, I highly recommend giving it a try. It is tailored made for the kinds of workflows a web designer uses like column layouts and grids. Exporting assets is simple, as it should be.

Besides reading the linked Smashing Magazine, I also recommend this super awesome tutorial by Sebastien Gabriel on Medium. Going through that tutorial was what really sold me on it. 

How to Find What You Love

When you find yourself doing something for the sake of just doing it. When you do it because you truly enjoy the process of doing it and you don't need external motivation to do it. When you stop seeking validation from others to give yourself permission to do it. When you do it even when no one is looking. When you don’t have any preconceived expectations that it’s going to be liked or not. When you stop comparing yourself to others and the motivation to get better is not based on competing with others. 

This is when you know you've found your calling. This is how you know you found something you love. 


Lines and Curves - Florida Polytechnic University - Photo Set

This building is truly stunning and Florida is really lucky to have it. It's located in Lakeland, FL. If you ever taken a trip to Tampa, you've probably seen it from I-4 heading west. I don't know a whole lot about architecture, but I'm truly fascinated by beautiful buildings and structures. I Googled the University and found out that it was designed by architect Dr Santiago Calatrava. His buildings are simply jaw dropping and I want to visit all of them. If you're an architecture nerd, I suggest you Google Image him up.

Looks Like Someone Has a Case of The Selfishies

No one is fully selfish, but no one is fully self-less either. This is the dichotomy of being a human being. Even Mother Teresa must have had selfish thoughts all the time, thinking on what kind of humanitarian legacy she will leave behind. And even the most narcissistic person you can think of probably has at least one person that they truly care about other than themselves. 

I believe that in order to truly be a good person, you must understand and accept this dichotomy. From the cradle to the grave, or default state is selfishness. Usually the older you get, the more selfless you become. Though not necessarily. There’s a big myth that recent parents like to say that having children makes you less selfish. While there is some truth to this, they are only being selfless to the one, two, or to how many children they might have. They are still being selfish to the rest of the world, in some instances even more selfish.

Selfishness is the reason why when we see a peer, an acquaintance, a friend, or even a family member doing something good for themselves, we have a hard time being genuinely happy for them, even though we might literally tell them that we’re happy for them. What we do however is find something that’s wrong or what they’re doing wrong. We sort of give backhanded compliments that are not even related to the issue at hand. This is because we have a really hard time relating to others if we don’t see ourselves reflected.

I certainly am as selfish as anybody, and I struggle to be more selfless with the people I interact with on a daily basis, but I try to focus my selfishness inward instead of outward and I do this by following the old principle that says that if you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything. 

The Universe is Completely Indifferent to Your Existence

"The universe is completely indifferent to your existence." I forget where it was that I heard or read this originally, but I remember that it was in the context of finding meaning and purpose in life. Nihilism is kind of a bummer philosophy, but I think the opposite, which is blind optimism and having a belief that there is a purpose, is probably more of a bummer. It's a bummer because sooner or later you'll realize how little control you truly have, if you even have any control at all. It's easier to believe in having a destiny, in making your own luck, and even believing that there's no such thing as luck, but throughout your life, shit that you didn't predict is going to happen that's going to disrupt your beliefs and all your life plans. There's a reason why the saying "hope for the best, plan for worst" is such a popular saying. Another way of saying it is “good stuff might happen, but bad shit has an equal chance of happening.” 

I've read Nietzsche a couple of times when I was in high school, maybe half understanding his writings. I probably understood a third of what Thus Spoke Zarathustra was about. But I've seen Fight Club about 25 times and that movie has many memorable nihilistic aphorism that are easier to understand than the high concept novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra. On of my favorites lines in the movie is when Tyler Durden, after burning the back of “Jack’s” hand with lye, he says, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

A way to distill that and to present nihilism as a more positive outlook of life is that sure, you can't control the exterior forces of life, after all we’re all just walking bags of meat that are slowly rotting away and we’re all eventually going to die. But there is only one thing you can control, and that is  how your going to react to all these unpredictable forces. We still have a conscious mind, and once we truly understand that the worst is likely to happen as much as the best, our mind’s will be better prepared to deal with them. 

“First you’ve gotta know - not fear, know - that someday you’re gonna die.” - Tyler Durden

Exploring Universal City Walk at Night - Photo Set

Living in Orlando and having an interest in urban and street photography is a bit hard. It's hard because part of what I find great about these styles of photography is sort of discovering interesting structures and buildings. Part of the thrill for me is the scouting and the hunt for spots. But I think it's safe to say that the city is pretty sparse in terms of how many buildings are in close proximity to each other. This means that your gonna have a hard time shooting an epic cityscape of Orlando at night for example. And forget about candid street portraits. With the exception of homeless people, which keep to themselves, there isn't a whole lot of people activity in Downtown. Unless you want to shoot barfly yuppies and hipsters at night. 

I don't mean to disparage Orlando, I'm just saying that there are limits here in terms of urban photography. But I think these limits, these constraints, are actually a good thing. Having constraints makes you do your best work and it makes you stand apart from the pack. But I don't want to digress into how-to-be-creative theories.

What Orlando and central Florida has plenty of though is places for tourists. I don't necessarily shy away from shooting at these places, but I understand that most of the pictures of these places feel inauthentic and honestly boring. Most of the structures there are made and are meant to be photographed. But my approach is to find the other stuff that people don't notice and that ins't meant to be photographed. The set below is my attempt at shooting Universal City Walk with the approach of a guerrilla urban photographer. And I mean guerrilla half jokingly because my approach and the things I was shooting startled the security personnel there. When I was shooting the stairs, two security guards were observing me very suspiciously. 

So enough said, here's the set. 

Put This On Your Media Queue #3

To Watch

Gone Girl - David Fincher can make a traditional Thriller into some dark and interesting shit. The best way I can describe it is if Fincher directed Basic Instinct. My only gripe is that Ben Affleck didn't work for me as that character. Besides that, this film is pretty good. 

To Read

What Screens Want - Didn't have a chance to sit down and read some good long-form this week, so I went and dug up an essay by Frank Chimero from my Instapaper archives. Chimero tackles the dichotomy of designing for physical things vs designing for screens. 

To Listen

The Blacker the Berry by Kendrick Lamar - Has been on instant replay this whole week. 

Gone Girl Soundtrack - Part of the reason the film Gone Girl works so well is the soundtrack. Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor collaborate once again with David Fincher and the moods and sounds are simply amazing. I heard that this Director and Musician collaboration compared to the Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone collaboration with the whole Spaguetti Westerns stuff.  So I guess you could call David Fincher movies since The Social Network "Darkwave Thrillers"?